Windows, Xbox now allow parents to set per-game screen time limits for kids

Both you and your kids will have to be part of the Microsoft ecosystem, of course, with the proper accounts.

Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft now allows more specific limits on kids playing games on Windows PCs and Xbox Ones, permitting parents to set limits on specific games and websites.

Although Microsoft rolled its new “app and game limits” feature out as part of the October 2019 Xbox Update, the new limits can be applied to both the PC and the console. They’re accessible via the existing family settings associated with your Microsoft account. 

Specifically, Microsoft now allows parents to specify times that their kids can play games—from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, say—as well as the total time that they can play the game. Each option can be configured for a specific game, such as Roblox, for example. Previously, parents were simply allowed to specify a chunk of time—two hours, possibly—during which their kids could be online.

Microsoft windows 10 xbox app and game limits Microsoft

A screnshot of the new “app and games limits” page on the Microsoft settings. 

Overall screen time can also be set for the Xbox One and Windows PCs, and even Android, though the phone will require Microsoft Launcher to be installed. 

Microsoft’s new app limits assume that both kids and their parents have a Microsoft account, of course. Specifically, parents must have a Microsoft account, while the kids need only be on a “child account,” a dependent account that’s tied to the parent’s Microsoft account. Microsoft has also altered the requirements to set up a child account, eliminating the need for a credit card and simply replacing it with an e-signature that the parent attests to. 

While the limits can be placed on individual apps—even such apps as Outlook or Edge—they do not place limits on which sites a child can browse to. That’s done separately, via the existing family settings. The Content restrictions tab can be used to block websites that Microsoft considers “too mature” on Microsoft Edge, and block the use of other browsers so that kids can’t get around it. Apps can also be restricted by a parent’s choice.

Parents can set up the permissions to send them weekly reports, measuring how much time was spent on apps, games, and websites. 

Microsoft’s October 2019 Xbox Update also includes under-the-hood performance updates, as well as an Events app, Wish List notifications, tighter integration with Mixer, and more. 

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Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
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